Official: Commanders Must Train for Electronic Warfare

Paul G. Kaminski

The military needs to do a better job of training to conduct operations in less-than-perfect conditions, given the expanding nature of the threats from cyber and space environments, the chairman of the Defense Science Board said.

Paul G. Kaminski yesterday told the Defense Writers Group that commanders must be ready for operations that take place in these two domains.

Building workarounds, isolating or cauterizing a cyber attack are things that commanders should learn in an exercise not on the battlefield, the chairman said.

“We think we are falling way short in what we need to be doing to look at degraded operations,” he added.

Degraded operations are caused by unanticipated changes in the environment and unanticipated changes in how systems perform, which affect a number of Defense Department capabilities and “all of the netcentric activities that we are dependent upon that certainly going to be attacks in active cyber ways,” Kaminski said.

Degraded operations also will affect U.S. reliance on orbital and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, Kaminski added.

An adversary could try to degrade the environment and attack the U.S. military’s reliance on electronic navigation and the American dependence on electronic warfare in general, he explained, and possibly disrupt supplies through the U.S. critical logistics infrastructure.

To prepare for degraded operations, DoD is approaching the issue from four levels: the strategic level, the operational level, the tactical level and the individual level.

“We find differences in the services at the individual level,” Kaminski said. “The Marines still turn off GPS systems and use a map and compass to find their way by dead reckoning. Special operators also do some good training.”

But the higher up the chain one goes, “the worse it gets as far as training that we do,” he added. For example, when the Air Force first adopted electronic warfare into its Red Flag combat training exercises, Kaminski said, “they decided not to do it again, because it ruined the whole exercise.”

One way to conduct degraded-environment exercises, the chairman said, is to introduce the environment and grade people on how they react. Another to keep pushing the envelope until the system breaks. A combination of the two scenarios is necessary, he told the defense writers.

“You need to conduct the break-the-system exercises and put it into the training where we grade people,” he said. “This is not a high-cost thing to do. It is a high-opportunity cost, because to do this right, you need to have senior leaders in place to participate so it does place demands on people’s schedules. But this needs to be addressed.”

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